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Sunday, September 7, 2008

[CO] Deputy Hargrove WON'T be charged with killing his wife Julia

Sheriff's deputy
September 07, 2008
Michael Aaron Hargrove, 32, a Pueblo County sheriff's deputy whose wife died under mysterious circumstances, will not face criminal charges, the district attorney's office announced last week. In a 12-page report released last week, District Attorney Bill Thiebaut ruled that Hargrove will not face criminal charges over the Jan. 15 death of his wife, Julia Hargrove, 30. The basis for the decision was medical evidence that proved inconclusive as to how Mrs. Hargrove sustained her fatal injuries. [LINK]

Previous entry:
May 11, 2008 - [CO] Deputy Hargrove's wife Julia died of blunt force trauma - ...Julia Hargrove "died of bleeding on the brain brought on by a blunt-force injury." Her husband, 32-year-old Michael Hargrove, told investigators he and his wife had been arguing on the night of January 14th and went to bed in separate rooms...


  1. Deputy won't face charges in wife's death: DA: Evidence does not conclusively support that death was a homicide.
    The Pueblo Chieftain, (CO)
    Patrick Malone
    September 4, 2008

    A Pueblo County sheriff's deputy whose wife died under mysterious circumstances will not face criminal charges, the district attorney's office announced Wednesday.

    In a 12-page report released Wednesday, District Attorney Bill Thiebaut ruled that Michael Aaron Hargrove , 32, will not face criminal charges over the Jan. 15 death of his 30-year-old wife, Julia Hargrove .

    The basis for the decision was medical evidence that proved inconclusive as to how Mrs. Hargrove sustained her fatal injuries.

    "In other words, the forensic pathologist cannot say with any certainty that this incident was an act of homicide," Thiebaut's report said. "If a medical doctor is unable to state whether the death of a person results from a criminal act or natural causes, then there is reasonable doubt."

    Mrs. Hargrove died from a brain injury caused by blunt-force trauma after coming home from a night of drinking. There were no external signs of a head injury. In one pathologist's opinion cited in the report, "most likely (Mrs. Hargrove 's left temple) came in contact with something large, hard and flat." The possibility that it was a hand was ruled out.

    The Hargroves had attended a belated Christmas party the night before her death. It was at Showtime Entertainment and Dining Complex, 1007 W. Sixth St., where Mrs. Hargrove was employed. The couple argued there and Hargrove left around 10 p.m. while his wife stayed behind.

    She caught a ride home at 1:45 a.m. with co-worker Gary Dionese, 42. In an interview with detectives, Dionese denied being intimate with her during the ride home. He passed a subsequent polygraph test about the night's happenings. However, Dionese's DNA consistent with manual touching was found on a stain on Mrs. Hargrove 's dress and on her inner crotch, according to the report. Investigators characterized Dionese as cooperative. Hargrove told investigators that when his wife got home they argued again. At one point, around 3 a.m., she tried to climb into bed with Hargrove in the master bedroom, but he pushed her off of him and sustained minor scratches on his neck, he told detectives. His DNA was found under her fingernails.

    Soon after 5 a.m., Hargrove said he found his wife unconscious at the foot of the bed and frothing at the mouth. He tried to clean her up in the shower and called 911 when she remained unresponsive, according to the report.

    Hargrove called 911 and administered CPR to his wife until medics arrived and determined she was dead.

    Acquaintances provided two different perspectives of the couple's relationship. Some said they were loving and "normal." Others related complaints about Hargrove 's treatment of his wife.

    One close friend of Mrs. Hargrove told investigators that Hargrove had punished his wife for coming home drunk by handcuffing her and putting her in the shower. Another said the pair had been a happy couple since high school. They were married for 11 years and had two children.

    Hargrove cooperated with the investigation by submitting to multiple searches of his home and many interviews. Initially, a polygraph exam he took about the incident was ruled inconclusive, but further review later deemed it credible. He also participated in a videotaped reconstruction of his explanation of the scratches on his neck.

    One possible explanation for the injury contained in the report was an account from a handful of witnesses that Mrs. Hargrove slipped off a chair and bumped her head while at Showtime, although very few in attendance reported seeing it and it was not visible on video from the bar reviewed by detectives.

    Although it spares Hargrove from criminal prosecution, the report contains conflicting circumstantial evidence that paints Hargrove at times as normal and at times as volatile and violent.

    Through Sheriff Kirk Taylor, Hargrove declined to be interviewed about the decision. The sheriff imparted that Hargrove was frustrated by the smears on his character contained in the report.

    "I've continually said we found no wrongdoing on the part of our officer," Taylor said.

    Hargrove was placed on paid leave in the immediate aftermath of his wife's death. He recently returned to work while the district attorney's ruling was pending, but again left duty for paid leave several weeks ago. Taylor said Hargrove is back on the job. He was hired in April 2007.

    Taylor said he agreed with the decision not to charge Hargrove .

    "We can't even prove that there was a crime committed," Taylor said.

    Thiebaut's ruling was based on the findings of the 10th Judicial District Critical Incident Team, which is made up of various law enforcement entities throughout Pueblo County. The group was formed to examine serious incidents involving law enforcement officers. Its investigations are forwarded to the district attorney's office for review and determination of whether anyone should be charged with a crime. Thiebaut then releases a report to the community announcing the team's findings and his decision.

    In Hargrove 's case, the investigation was exhaustive. The sheriff's department, Pueblo Police Department, the county coroner's office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and others completed their portions of the probe in May and presented it to Thiebaut, who said investigators from his office followed up on the findings of the other agencies.

  2. Local deputy back at work: He had been off since his wife was found dead from blunt-force trauma on Jan. 15.
    The Pueblo Chieftain, (CO)
    Nick Bonham
    August 15, 2008

    A sheriff's deputy investigated in the mysterious death of his wife in January has returned to work.

    Michael Hargrove returned to full-time duty on Aug. 4, Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said Thursday.

    The 32-year-old deputy, assigned to the county detention center, has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 15, the morning his 30-year-old wife, Julia Hargrove , was found dead in their Pueblo West bedroom.

    Mrs. Hargrove 's cause of death was bleeding on the brain caused by blunt-force head trauma, according to the coroner.

    The couple were involved in a series of arguments the preceding night. A multi-agency investigation of Mrs. Hargrove 's death was completed in April. The 10th Judicial District Critical Incident Team, made up of investigators from all the law enforcement agencies in Pueblo County, forwarded its report to the district attorney's office.

    The team conducts independent investigations when serious incidents involving law enforcement arise. District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said the team's findings remain under review.

    An announcement on whether anyone will face criminal charges in connection with Mrs. Hargrove 's death is expected in September, Thiebaut said.

    Sheriff Taylor said Hargrove had asked to return to work.

    "I felt it was time for this young man to come back to work. It was at his request," Taylor said. "I didn't have any reason not to bring him back to work. Our investigation revealed nothing indicating any wrongdoing on the part of the deputy. I would've waited until the district attorney made his decision, but I didn't feel like I could do that."

    Taylor said Hargrove 's employment status could change depending on the district attorney's final decision.

    The night of Mrs. Hargrove 's death, the couple attended a party at Showtime, a bar in the Midtown Shopping Center where Julia Hargrove worked. The Hargroves argued at the party.

    Deputy Hargrove left about 10 p.m. while his wife remained at the bar, leaving for home with a co-worker at 1:10 a.m. The couple reportedly argued again when she came home and the two retired to separate bedrooms.

    When Deputy Hargrove awoke for work the next morning, he found his wife unconscious on his bedroom floor.

    - Chieftain reporter Patrick Malone contributed to this report.


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